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13+ quotes from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities by Herman Melville

Quotes from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities

Herman Melville ·  449 pages

Rating: (0.9K votes)


“A smile is the chosen vehicle of all ambiguities.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“For in tremendous extremities human souls are like drowning men; well enough they know they are in peril; well enough they know the causes of that peril;--nevertheless, the sea is the sea, and these drowning men do drown.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“I say, I can not identify that thing which is called happiness, that thing whose token is a laugh, or a smile, or a silent serenity on the lip. I may have been happy, but it is not in my conscious memory now. Nor do I feel a longing for it, as though I had never had it; my spirit seeks different food from happiness, for I think I have a suspicion of what it is. I have suffered wretchedness, but not because of the absence of happiness, and without praying for happiness. I pray for peace -- for motionlessness -- for the feeling of myself, as of some plant, absorbing life without seeking it, and existing without individual sensation. I feel that there can be no perfect peace in individualness. Therefore, I hope one day to feel myself drank up into the pervading spirit animating all things. I feel I am an exile here. I still go straying.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“…for it is often to be observed of the shallower men, that they are the very last to despond. It is the glory of the bladder that nothing can sink it; it is the reproach of a box of treasure, that once overboard it must drown”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“But this whole world is a preposterous one, with many preposterous people in it.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“From without, no wonderful effect is wrought within ourselves, unless some interior, responding wonder meets it. That the starry vault shall surcharge the heart with all rapturous marvelings, is only because we ourselves are greater miracles, and superber trophies than all the stars in universal space.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“Pierre little foresaw that this world hath a secret deeper than beauty, and Life some burdens heavier than death.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“In the operative opinion of this world, he who is already fully provided what what is necessary for him, that man shall have more; while he who is deplorably destitute of the same, he shall have taken away from him even that which he hath. Yet the world vows it is a very plain, downright matter-of-fact, plodding, humane sort of world. It is governed only by the simplest principles, and scorns all ambiguities, all transcendentals, and all manner of juggling. Now some imaginatively heterodoxical men are often surprisingly twitted upon their willful inverting of all common-sense notions, their absurd and all-displacing transcendentals, which say three is four, and two and two make ten. But if the eminent Juggularius himself ever advocated in mere words a doctrine one thousandth part so ridiculous and subversive of all practical sense, as that doctrine which the world actually and eternally practices, of giving unto him who already hath more than enough, still more of that superfluous article, and taking away from him who hath nothing at all, even that which he hath,—then is the truest book in the world a lie.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“a gentle sister is the second best gift to a man;”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“Love was first begot by Mirth and Peace, in Eden, when the world was young. The man oppressed with cares, he can not love; the man of gloom finds not the god. So, as youth, for the most part, has no cares, and knows no gloom, therefore, ever since time did begin, youth belongs to love. Love may end in grief and age, and pain and need, and all other modes of human mournfulness; but love begins in joy. Love's first sigh is never breathed, till after love hath laughed. Love laughs first, and then sighs after. Love has not hands, but cymbals; Love's mouth is chambered like a bugle, and the instinctive breathings of his life breathe jubilee notes of joy!”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“Is it possible, after all, that in spite of bricks and shaven faces, this world we live in is brimmed with wonders, and I and all mankind, beneath our garbs of commonplaceness, conceal enigmas that the stars themselves, and perhaps the highest seraphim, can not resolve?”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“Love sees ten million fathoms down, till dazzled by the floor of pearls. The eye is Love's own magic glass, where all things that are not of earth, glide in supernatural light. There are not so many fishes in the sea, as there are sweet images in lovers' eyes. In those miraculous translucencies swim the strange eye-fish with wings, that sometimes leap out, instinct with joy; moist fish-wings wet the lover's cheek. Love's eyes are holy things; therein the mysteries of life are lodged; looking in each other's eyes, lovers see the ultimate secret of the worlds; and with thrills eternally untranslatable, feel that Love is god of all. Man or woman who has never loved, nor once looked deep down into their own lover's eyes, they know not the sweetest and the loftiest religion of this earth. Love is both Creator's and Saviour's gospel to mankind; a volume bound in rose-leaves, clasped with violets, and by the beaks of humming-birds printed with peach-juice on the leaves of lilies.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


“Eternally inexorable and unconcerned is Fate, a mere heartless trader in men’s joys and woes.”
― Herman Melville, quote from Pierre: or, the Ambiguities


About the author

Herman Melville
Born place: in New York City, New York, The United States
Born date August 1, 1819
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